Afghanistan circumstances and the hand of Great Powers
The Western forces started their Withdrawal from Afghanistan in May 2021. The situation is alarming for all the major regional and global powers. The Taliban have been successful in claiming vast territory as well as have found reserves of ammunition left by the US forces. The retreating Afghan Security Officials are also providing them with advanced weapons along with the amount of Manpower. It is expected by the major powers that the Taliban will be able to form their government.
Pakistan has been an important regional player in this regard. It has been a partner with the USA against its struggle of Al Qaeda and the Cold War period against the Soviet Union. However, it had to pay the great prize in the form of terrorism, which resulted in the loss of life and property. The current US and Western forces withdrawal raises the same questions which it raised during 1990 US forces withdrawal from Afghanistan while leaving behind its self nurtured Al Qaeda. The period during the 1990s marked unrest in Afghanistan as well as instability in all of the South and Central Asian regions. Pakistan in this current period has merged as US partners of Peace and has played an important role as facilitators for Afghan Peace Talks while bringing the Afghan Taliban to the negotiating table with the Major Power.
The Current US and Western Force’s withdrawal is being followed by the same pattern as it was 30 years ago and this time they have left behind the Taliban as the most important faction who are waiting for a perfect opportunity to establish their government. Pakistan has been branded as carrying out double-dealings while it dealt with Afghanistan and The US and Western forces. However, the other regional and Major powers have different views about Pakistan’s involvement in this scenario.
Pakistan has been applauded and appreciated for its efforts in bringing The Taliban to the negotiations which seemingly was an impossible task. Not only the negotiations occurred successfully but the withdrawal date and plan were also successfully signed. Hence Pakistan in this regard earned the respect of China, Russia, Central Asian States as well as Iran and Saudi Arabia. However, this step was seen as mistrust by the USA and Western powers.
The USA wanted to maintain a dominating position in the region while keeping its military presence in the form of using Pakistan airbase as well as being permitted to carry out drone strikes. However, Pakistan’s rejection of the idea has led it to fall from the US grace. In a major development, it has been placed under the Children Soldiers List which can greatly affect its economic progress as well as its outlook as a sovereign and nuclear state. The Major Powers also played an important role during the current FATF session as a result of which Pakistan’s status has not been updated and thus will remain the part of FATF grey list.
In the South Asian Region, it has gained the trust of China by going against the USA suggestion of the handing over of Pakistani Bases. China will be using Pakistan and seek its assistance not only to ensure peace and stability in Afghanistan but also to acquire economic gains in Afghanistan thus by siding with the Taliban with the help of Pakistan. Russia also seems to be in a position of accepting the Taliban Government as long it ensures that the situation in the Central Asian States doesn’t turn volatile and Russia itself is in peace.
The Central Asian States will be asking for Pakistan’s help regarding keeping their borders safe if the situation turns volatile in Afghanistan and the factions turn to fight with one another. However, they also seek a stable government that can ensure their economic stability, as well as the water dispute among them, can be easily resolved.
Saudi Arabia has an interest in Afghanistan. They range from the end of Conflict to establishing strong pro-Wahhabism links between Afghanistan and Saudi Arabia mostly to counter Iran and its influence. Afghanistan circumstances and the hand of Great Powers
Iran is an important regional player and thus in the present times, it has reduced its animosity towards the Taliban’s while seeking to establish cordial relations with them. This policy shift occurred with the US decision of withdrawing from Afghanistan as well as to limit the Saudi Interest in the region while using the Taliban.
India has been the only country in the region that has strongly opposed Pakistan’s involvement in Afghanistan. India has its interests most likely to become strategic and economic partners with the governments in Afghanistan as well to successfully run their missions of harming Pakistan and its interest while using Terrorism from the Afghan soil.
The upcoming months will hold great importance not only for the future of Pakistan, Afghanistan but also for the other regional and Major powers involved. Hence Pakistan needs to prepare itself against a possible surge in terrorism as well as it might face a refugee crisis as well. It also needs the assistance of Major power so that forces withdrawal as well the new government appointment in Afghanistan can be made in peace otherwise it will have disastrous effects on all of the regional and Major powers alike. Regional Cooperation is also required to keep India and other non-state actors in check so that any possible aggression can be effectively countered. Afghanistan circumstances and the hand of Great Powers.
Author: Fatima Faaha Malik